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The morning after elections, a letter to my PTI family

The morning after update: My PTI family, I have been getting texts, calls, inboxes. You are asking what I have to say because I am forever the optmist, forever the pacifist.

It’s not making sense, is it?

Some of you are so sad, you vow never to vote & run away from Pakistan. Some are numb. Some wanna give up forever.

To you I say: wake up & re-think. If you were part of Pakistan’s dreamy, immature vote bank, then yes, it’s over for you. I am not. I voted for PTI not because Khan is so hot (which he is) but because of the ideology. With PTI in clear lead in KP, do we understand the impact this could have? Our problems of terrorism need to be countered by sincere leadership from the Frontier, and God has given us that. As a Karachiite, I have grown up in a city where we would be afraid to even whisper the name of the leading party here. Yesterday, we called them by name & fought back where they tried to intimidate us. NA 250 friends, you know what I am saying. This is not to say all “maaloom afraad” are wrong or bad. But any form of oppression must be voiced against & Karachiites did that yesterday, & PTI had a lot to do with that. We mobilized women & youth to vote. And that’s change in itself.

Realistically, other parties, much as we may dislike them, have gone through much more. PPP’s journey has seen genuine jiyalas in jails, in death cells, with most of the Bhutto family assassinated. PML-N: the less said the better. It saddens me that one province decided the fate of the country, though I am Punjabi too. And ideology-wise I disagree with PML-N strongly. But for Pakistan’s sake, I hope that the economy strengthens if nothing else under their rule. Because at the end of the say, it is about Pakistan and what’s best for it. ANP has lost so much this time, & I feel they still will not give up because they have an ideology they believe in.

PTI supporters: We still have a real leader, a cause, a strong position in the parliament and lots to do for Pakistan. So the mature PTI supporter will only get stronger, more mature and politically aware, as will Khan. And the fickle voters will ebb away. Choice is yours.

I am proud to call Imran Khan my leader. And well done PTI.

“Maana k ye sun-san ghari sakht bari hai
lekin mere dil ye to faqat ek ghari hai
himmat karo jeene ko abhi umr pari hai” (Faiz)

imran-khan-fb-cover-timeline-images1

https://www.facebook.com/farahnaz.zahidi/posts/10151490382888318?notif_t=like

Tujh ko kitnon ka lahu chahiye ae arz-e-watan….

Elections 2013 to be held on May 11th are a week away. We all wait for a new beginning for our beloved Pakistan…..but everyday innocent people continue to lose lives at the hands of militant forces, and the upcoming elections promise to be a time of more bloodshed. I hope our worst fears are proven wrong.

Did Faiz write this for us? For Pakistan today?

Tujh ko kitno(n) ka lahu chahiye ae arz-e-watan
jo teray aariz-e-bayrung ko gulnaar kare(n)
kitnee aahoo(n) say kalejaa tera thunda ho gaa
kitnay aansoo teray sehraao(n) ko gulzaar kare(n)

Teray aewaano(n) mei(n) purzay huay payma(n) kitnay
kitnay waaday jo na aasoodaa-e-iqraar huay
kitnee aankhoo(n) ko nazar khaa gaeey bud-khwaho(n) kee
khwab kitnay teree shehrahoo(n) mei(n) sungsaar huay

bilaa-kashaan-e-muhabbat pe jo huaa so huaa
jo mujh pe guzri mut us say kaho, huaa so huaa
mabada ho koee zalim tera garebaa(n) geer
lahu kay daagh to daman say dho, huaa so huaa

hum to majboor-e-wafa hei(n) mugar ae jaan-e-jahaa(n)
apnay ushshaaq say aysay bhee koee  karta hai
teree mehfil ko Khuda rakhay abad tak qaaim
hum to mehmaa(n) hei(n) gharee bhar kay hamara kya hai

The PTI candidate who wants to meet Imran Khan

Published: April 29, 2013

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Fazlullah Shah. PHOTO: EXPRESS/ HYDER ALI

KARACHI: “I have never met Imran Khan in my life, but I am his supporter, his comrade, his party’s candidate. His ideology and manifesto, I am convinced, can save Pakistan. Just, please, could he meet me once? It will help motivate me in my struggle. And it will re-energise the people of Thatta,” says an earnest looking Fazlullah, a tad bit nervous as he talks to The Express Tribune.

The deteriorating situation of Thatta brought him to a point where he felt he must wage a fight, if nothing else. “The whole of Thatta is like the ruins of Thatta,” says this candidate of the NA 237 constituency. Fazlullah shares his sadness over how, in the wake of the devastating floods, normally self-sufficient people were forced to beg in the streets of Thatta, with no help in sight.

Like many Pakistanis who choose to stay back in Pakistan in this era of mayhem and do something to improve the status quo, Syed Fazlullah Shah, aka Nasir Shah, made a choice not to go abroad although he has visited Europe many times for business and had other options. “I can speak five languages, including German,” he says proudly.

To Fazlullah, solutions to the building frustration came in the form of all what the PTI manifesto offers. “I am no political analyst but I do know that PTI has a fair chance since political space has been generated because of the previous government’s dismal performance and the people being disillusioned,” he says, adding that PTI is a great attempt at stabilising and reviving Pakistan.

“The feudal and the powerful don’t have patent rights over this country! The average man can get up and take charge, like me,” he says.

In a community where power is passed on as a legacy and new faces are not welcome, especially those from non-political average backgrounds like Fazlullah, he has taken a big chance and invested everything into the election campaign. His direct opponents include Marvi Memon of PML-N, Syed Riaz Hussain Shah Shirazi (Shirazi group) and Sadiq Memon of PPP. Incidentally, President Zardari’s foster brother is contesting from the same area for a provincial assembly seat.

“My mother is old and was initially very concerned that I may land into trouble,” says Fazlullah, adding, “But even she has understood that for improving future of Pakistan, the common man has to stand up and support those leaders, like Imran Khan, who genuinely want to change this country for the better. Now, my mother’s prayers are with me.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2013.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/541878/the-pti-candidate-who-wants-to-meet-imran-khan/

The man who sold his wife’s jewellery for ‘Naya Pakistan’

Published: April 28, 2013

Gul Muhammad Keeriyo PTI’s candidate from NA-213 Nawabshah (Shaheed Benazirabad district). PHOTO: HYDER ALI

KARACHI: Dressed in an off-white shalwar kameez and leather chappals, he has an unmistakably humble stance coupled with a firm, almost naive resolve when he talks. Gul Muhammad Keeriyo is PTI’s candidate from NA-213 constituency in Nawabshah (Shaheed Benazirabad district).

Gul owns just 12 acres of land. He had just Rs300,000 in savings and one jewellery set of his wife which she willingly volunteered to sell for his election campaign as she was willing to make a sacrifice for change. “When I discussed it with my wife, I told her ‘what if this jewellery set were to get robbed tomorrow? Why not use it for a good cause by free will?’ And she agreed saying ‘I am doing this for a better Pakistan for my children’.”

“It all started when I saw Khan sahab’s jalsa of October 30th 2011 on television, which he held at Minar-e-Pakistan. I was convinced that very moment that this is the solution to what this nation is going through. Khan sahib sacha aadmi hai. Aadmi ka pata chal jata hai baji(Khan is an honest man; one can tell what people are inside),” says Gul, who had gone to the local PTI office the very next day and joined as a PTI worker. With hard work and encouragement from Qazi Nadeem Siddiqui, district president of PTI of the area, Gul climbed rungs and became more active in PTI till he finally got a chance at candidature.

Gul, who proudly calls himself a sipahi (soldier) of Khan and calls Khan anmol heera (rare diamond), is inspired by Khan’s leading from the front approach. “Yes, I am a candidate against some big names. And what has to happen will happen. When my leader, the only brother of six sisters, can risk his life, why can’t I? I still have more males in the family to support me. It’s a risky business but dying for a cause is martyrdom,” he says, convinced.

Gul’s opponents include Asif Zardari’s sister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho of PPP, Inayat Ali Rind of MQM and Zahid Hussain of PML-F.

Poverty and oppression, according to Gul, have resulted in social disparity that has frustrated people to the point that it has affected the law and order situation adversely of late, even in rural areas. “Or women’s gold bangles are cut off from their hands when they travel in rickshaws. Our mobiles are snatched when we go to drop our kids to school on bikes. It is not just about economics. It is about self-respect as the people of this country, something we are losing fast.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2013.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/541550/bring-it-on-the-man-who-sold-his-wifes-jewellery-for-naya-pakistan/

Mard parha to fard parha. Aurat parhi to ghar parha – Hajiani Lanjo, Tharparkar’s first female candidate

Published: April 23, 2013

“Leave aside women, not even men are not willing to contest against these powerful people,” says Hajiani Lanjo. PHOTO: AMEER HAMZA

MITHI: In Tharparkar, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Muslim or a Hindu. If you happen to be a woman then you’re automatically at the lowest rung of the social ladder, regardless of your caste or creed. For the women of this region, standing for elections is a distant dream, and most are not even allowed to cast votes. Now, one determined woman hopes to change all that. Meet 32-year-old Hajiani Lanjo, a lawyer and social activist who is the first woman in the history of Tharparkar to stand for elections.

It won’t be an easy fight. Contesting for the coveted NA-229 constituency from the platform of the Qaumi Awami Tehreek (QAT), Hajiani will be going up against political heavyweights like former Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim and Pakistan Peoples Party’s Faqir Sher Muhammad Bilalani.

“She may not be a winning candidate, but I salute her courage,” says Dr Ramesh Kumar, health coordinator of the Participatory Village Development Program (PVDP), which works closely with local communities on gender issues.

Hajiani, despite the odds, is confident about her chances. “Leave aside women, not even men are not willing to contest against these powerful people,” she says.  “But I have faith that if the elections are free and fair, I will win without a doubt. I have worked for my people and they will vote for me – the women, the youth, the civil society.”

This isn’t the first ‘first’ for her either. The daughter of an uneducated farmer, Hajiani was the first person in her family to gain an education. Growing up in a small village some 18KM from Mithi, she recalls how hard it was to convince her father to send her to school.

“I would pester my dad to send me to school, but nobody was even willing to buy me a book,” she says, her eyes moist at the memory. “I kept insisting and my father finally gave in. I started by going to learn the Quran in the mosque and then joined the small school of the mosque.” Most people thought that would quench her thirst for knowledge, but in fact it only whetted her appetite. Despite poverty and the pressures of patriarchy, she found her way to college and then university.

“Learning the Quran is enough for girls, why do they need more education?” she says, recalling the kind of comments people made.

During this time, her tilt towards activism surfaced and she started to work in different NGOs and finally got in touch with members of the Sindhiani Tehreek (Sindhi women’s movement), which was formed in alliance with the QAT. Here she met women from all social stratas, from farmers’ daughters like herself, to educated professionals. The QAT’s leftist and progressive ideology filtered into the kachehri (get-together) sessions, and Hajiano proved herself an apt pupil indeed.

“People are searching for life on Mars, but the child of Tharparkar is still malnourished, our women are still dying during childbirth, we still have no clean drinking water. How long will this continue?” she asks with obvious passion.

Already a Masters in Sociology from University of Sindh, Hajiani has just completed her LLB. “There are very few female lawyers in Tharparkar. Male advocates often cannot relate to a woman’s plea and this is where I step in,” she says.

Luckily, she can also count on her husband for a helping hand. “He is uneducated but very supportive. He understands the cause,” she says.

In her gentle voice, this woman of substance gives a warning to politicians. “My message to the political leaders responsible for the mess that we are in is that you need to get your act together or the people will take matters into their own hands.”

Hajiani is in this fight for the long haul “I trust God, myself and my intentions. In the past, Pakistan has not chosen the correct leaders due to fear or greed. But we can no longer afford to do that,” she says.

Her biggest dream is to change the fate of her people through education, and especially the education of women. “Mard parha to fard parha. Aurat parhi to ghar parha

(If a man is educated, an individual is educated. If a woman is educated, an entire family is educated).”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2013.